mercredi, juin 23, 2010

The Nature of Sacramental Grace (III)

By Father Garrigou-Lagrange, o.p.
Is it possible to be more precise in determining the nature of this permanent supernatural reality if it is not a new habit distinct from Sanctifying Grace, the infused virtues or the gifts? So far we have moved in the realms of certainty but now we must descend to probability.

It seems to be the more probable opinion, held by John of Saint Thomas, the theologians of Salamanca, Contenson, Hugon, Merkelbach and many other Thomists, that the sacramental grace is a special modification and strengthening of Sanctifying Grace, which exerts an influence on the acts of the various virtues. We know already that the grace of original justice had a particular vital force of its own in addition to habitual grace which has now been restored to us, and it is this special vigor which is given back to us in some measure by the proper effect of each of the Sacraments. This modal reality added to habitual grace forms the basis of the moral right to the future reception of actual graces corresponding to the Sacrament received. We find something similar – although on a higher plane – in the lives of Our Lady and St. Joseph. Our Lady was given the grace of motherhood, the love and tenderness of a mother, St. Joseph the love and prudence of a foster father, both of them thus receiving a special modification and strengthening of Sanctifying Grace.

Although all the statements in this section have been deduced from the purpose of the Sacraments, this final conclusion cannot be put forward as anything other than the more probable opinion. But our view can be confirmed by considering each of the Sacraments in turn. The grace of Baptism is given not merely to make us capable of living a supernatural life – such as was enjoyed by Adam before his fall and by the Angels – but in order to help us to live as Christians by following the example of Christ in His work of Redemption. And so this grace, by enabling us to live as Christians, disposes us to love the Cross, a disposition not present either in the good Angels or in Adam before the fall.

The grace of Confirmation is intended to make us constant and prudent in witnessing to the truth of the Christian Faith. The grace of Holy Communion is given to unite us more closely to Christ through an increase of charity. The sacramental grace of Penance is meant as a help for avoiding the occasions of sins. The sacramental grace of Marriage strengthens the parties to live as followers of Christ in their married state and to educate their children according to Christian principles. The grace of Holy Orders is conferred that the priest may fulfill his sacred duties – the act of Consecration, sacramental absolution, preaching, spiritual direction – with ever-increasing holiness: and so we speak of priestly love and priestly prudence. It is clear, therefore, that the modality of habitual grace, about which we have spoken above, exercices an influence on the infused virtues, which flow from Sanctifying Grace.

1 commentaire:

Patmos Pete a dit…

Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.